Ernestine Shepherd: Midlife Badass

           Last year at this time I was 25 pounds heavier, 3 sizes larger and fatigue was my constant companion. You know that I’d felt as though I’d tried every thing to lose weight and was feeling low about the chances of a 59 year old woman with a long history of health mishaps being able to get fit. I knew exercise was a big part of the solution but I just didn’t have the motivation to be constant.  All the fitness gurus seemed to be either 12 years old or had been fitness gurus since they were 12 years old.  What was a middle aged woman to do? Where was a woman to motivate, inspire, and guide? Who was my Wonder Woman?

            Meet Ernestine Shepard, the world’s oldest bodybuilding champion. At 80 years old she sports a six pack abs, can do limitless one arm push-ups, and runs or walks 6 miles everyday at 3am. Here’s the best part, she didn’t start exercising until she was 55 and she didn’t begin to take  it seriously until she was 59.

Ernistine at 55
Want motivation?  Boy, can she give it to you.
I’ve read and reread her book, Determined, Dedicated, Disciplined  a bazillion times.

Here’s what great about this book above all the other fitness books:
  1. She wrote it.  It’s  not literature.  There wasn’t a ghost writer. Obviously, no editor. It’s got major syntax, punctuation and organisational problems, but it works because IT’S All HER VOICE.   It’s like she’s is in my living room just talking and that makes this book more real than any other.
  2. She’s one of a kind.  Lot’s of people write their own books in their own voices, and they are
    Ernestine at 74

    rubbish.  Ernestine’s book isn’t rubbish because she is an extraordinary person.

  3. She’s extraordinary now but when she was my age, she was just like me- average and overweight. When she was 55, going to the gym was her sister’s idea because they were both ashamed of how they looked in bathing suits.  It was far more fun to follow her sister, Velvet, and dress-up for the gym than to be serious about fitness. When Velvet died, depression set in.  Fitness was the last thing on her list. Then at 59, while waiting and hoping she’d die too, Ernestine remembered that she had made a promise to her sister to get and keep fit. Ernestine went back to the gym.  It was there she fought her depression and won.
  4. She trained her mind too. In order to fight grief, she began to train her mind. At first, she read the intentions that her sister had written out before her death. She still reads it and then what she’s added as her morning “devotions” – which are beautiful affirmations that I’ve adopted.
  5. It’s all Ernestine. She outlines her physical, mental, and spiritual training. Each effort is from her heart and not some expert’s she hired.  Ernestine is real and basic.  I believe her.
  6. I wanted to do what she does. And I did/do.

         Even though Ernestine is in the Guinness Book of Worlds Records for the oldest bodybuilder, even though she’s n Ripley’s Believe it or Not,

Ernestine at 80
Ernestine at 80

even though Ernestine has had a myriad of articles and news programs about her she doesn’t seek the current trend in fitness trainer fame. There are no videos for sale, subscriptions or programs to buy.  Her website is as messy as her book. She just wants to spread the message of fitness. However, regardless of her messy website, her physique and guidance are pure poetry.

Ernestine’s goal is to just help another women get fit.
And she has.
 From the gym,

This week’s one question survey is all about what keeps you from exercising.  Just press the magic survey button to take it.Layout 1


  1. nancy says:

    What an incredible journey! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  2. Jessica H says:

    She is AMAZING! I think I saw her on TV last year and could not believe how strong she still is. Total motivation to get myself in shape for sure!

  3. Anna nuttall says:

    What an awesome journey. Well done you.

  4. Christy says:

    So inspiring. I am a new mom and desperate to get healthy again. Like you did, I feel so tired because I am not taking care of my body. Thanks for the post and inspiration.

    1. admin says:

      Don’t give up.. just start. Ten minutes a day, then 11, then twelve and sooner than later you’ll be feeling much better. Congratulations on the new family.

  5. heidi says:

    Wow! It is truly a testament to how working out really improves your life. That is inspiring and makes me want to work harder, those abs are insane.

    1. admin says:

      If you think her abs are insane find a picture of her pack! Thanks for checking in.

  6. Patty says:

    I’ve seen her before. Amazing. Great that you told her story instead of just saying wow about her picture. Thanks for posting on the #fdflinkparty.

    1. admin says:

      She is the important one. Thank You for stopping by.

  7. Kimberly says:

    What an inspiring story. I need to get fit as I am seeing my clothes not fit anymore like they used to but it’s a daunting thing. Starting is the hardest part for me.

  8. Carla says:

    I competed a few times when I was younger and have committed to myself to getting back up on stage when I turn 65. Needless to say I have followed her closely and she is my heroine <3

  9. Laurie Stone says:

    Love her. She’s so inspiring.

  10. I love reading about wonderful people like Ernestine. Such an inspiration and I hope I’m like that in my 80s. I started running at 50 and still going strong at 60. I’m sharing this post on my #couchpotatotofabfit Facebook Page!

  11. Wow–what an inspiration (Ernestine and you)! Thanks for sharing this.

  12. A true inspiration! Way to go Beth. Good on You!!

  13. Jennifer says:

    She is an inspiration. I’m also inspired by Tao Porchon-Lynch who is a 93 year old yoga teacher.

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